With each passing year, music sites across the world keep adding items to their already huge drop-down lists for style and genre. Categories, sub-categories, and niches define and divide music into endlessly ways, and excitedly, Milwaukee-based multi-instrumental quartet Whiskey Doubles adds yet another niche with their debut effort, Honey Creek EP.
The EP, relatively short at just 8 songs, paints an interesting, new, slightly more sophisticated swath in the grand spectrum of American music. The band advertises themselves as an orchestral-folk outfit made up of “four musicians and way too many instruments.” Despite those claims, the instrumentation often feels small and intimate, while several of the tunes do evoke the sense of a larger ensemble. Songs like “Burn” and the rousing “No Angels” certainly ramp up the instrumentation, with cellist Kent Heberling also providing upright bass and snare on top of Ellie Jerow’s flute, Kristen Honoré’s clarinet and vocals, and songwriter Nathan Honoré’s lead vocals and guitar. Other tunes like the cute “Tickle of My Breath” feature only a guitar, a ukulele for some accents, and hand-held percussion. “Tickle” also adds a thumping bass drum as the primary driver, keeping the song away from being too quaint.
Throughout the album, solid guitar/voice songwriting is the backbone to all of the varied instrumentation and orchestral ideas, rooting the album in American folk. Each song can certainly survive stripped down to N. Honoré’s guitar, solid baritone, and thoughtful lyrics. Though a thoroughly modern album, much of the lyrical content harkens to traditional Americana topics – perseverance, religion, and even a superstitious song about a lucky coin. The lead vocals carry the tunes well, and the often intertwined female backups and occasional 4-part harmony from the group add an appreciated additional component.
The album is a promising start for this new group and their new approach to folk.The interesting blend of homegrown folk and orchestral musicianship is available now on Spotify and iTunes.